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30 October 2009
News

Custody for Srebrenica Three rendered

BIRN BiH
The State Court rendered a decision to order a one-month custody for Dusko Jevic, Mendeljev Djuric and Zoran Ilic, who are suspected of genocide committed in Srebrenica in 1995.
The Court accepted arguments by the Prosecution, that if released, the three suspects would "increase the possibility of influencing witnesses".

"The Court ordered the Suspects into custody given that the crime in question carries a 10-year imprisonment penalty or a harsher sentence, and due to the manner of perpetration and consequences of the crime, releasing of the suspects would result in realistic threat of public order disturbance", states the Court decision.

Acting on a warrant issued by the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the State Investigation and Protection Agency, SIPA, arrested Dusko Jevic, known as Staljin, Mendeljev Djuric, known as Mane, and Zoran Ilic, known as Cindin, on October 28, 2009. The former policemen are suspected of participation in the genocide committed in Srebrenica.

While little is known about Ilic, except for the fact that he was a member of a unit with the Police Staff Training Center on Mount Jahorina, which was present in Srebrenica in July 1995, Jevic and Djuric have appeared as witnesses at trials conducted before the Hague Tribunal for Srebrenica crimes.

Despite the fact that they said at the Hague that they performed their duties "in an honourable manner" in Srebrenica, the State Prosecution suspects that Jevic, former Assistant Commander for Operational and Training Affairs and Director of the Staff Training Center on Mount Jahorina, and Mendeljev, former Commander of the First Squad at the same center, participated in separating men who were capable of serving the military, in Potocari in July 1995. The men were then shot at various locations.

After the war Jevic was Inspector at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska, MUP RS. In July 2007 his passport and personal ID card were seized as per a decision made by the Office of the High Representative.
As stated before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the documents were seized due to his "helping war-crimes indictees and obstructing the Dayton Peace Agreement".

His Defence attorney, as well as the Defence of the two other suspects, objected to the Prosecution's custody order motion, claiming that the allegations on possible influencing of witnesses and accomplices are "general and arbitrary".

"Ninety percent of all witnesses have been granted protective measures. The Defence does not even know who they are. The statement that the suspects may get hold of their personal data is arbitrary," said Milos Peric, Defence attorney of the third suspect, Ilic.

The Defence further said that nearly 15 years had passed since the crime was committed, adding that the suspects could have influenced witnesses and accomplices had they wanted to.

"We have about 50 witnesses who have already been examined. According to the allegations made in the Prosecution's motion, everyone could be ordered into custody," said Slavko Asceric, Jevic's Defence attorney, adding that his client was "a sports activist". "He is angry because he treated everyone in a correct manner and now he is going to be detained".

Standing next to Mladic


In October 2003 Jevic testified for the Hague Prosecution at the trial of Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic. On that occasion he said that he arrived in Bratunac together with a squad commanded by Mendeljev, as per an order received from Ljubomir Borovcanin, on July 11, 1995. He said that they monitored the evacuation of civilians from Potocari the following day.

"Upon our arrival in Potocari we saw a large number of men, women and children. We saw some military units passing by. Some were known to me, others were not. Many people came there to see the mass of people. It was like a circus. We stayed there as a safety assurance for UNPROFOR and those people," Jevic said during his testimony, adding that General Ratko Mladic came there a short time later.

Blagojevic, former Commander of the Bratunac Brigade with the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Jokic, former Chief of the Engineering Unit with the Zvornik Brigade, was sentenced to nine years for the crime committed in Srebrenica. Borovcanin, former Commander of the Joint Forces of the MUP RS, is charged with genocide committed in Srebrenica. The Tribunal has been searching for Mladic, former Commander of the VRS Main Headquarters, for more than ten years.

"I accompanied him (author's note: Mladic) all the way to the mass of people. When we got there General Mladic spoke to the civilians. He gave them food, water, bread. I was standing next to him. He told them to be patient, adding that vehicles were coming to evacuate them. He said they should not be afraid," Jevic said.

Jevic then told the Court that those people were then loaded onto the buses and trucks, which transported them towards Kladanj. He said that on July 12 and 13 he did not see any separation or abuse of men, adding that he did not receive any information confirming that something like that had happened in Potocari or any other locations in Srebrenica and Bratunac.

He said that his unit controlled the road between Bratunac and Konjevic polje from the evening of July 13 until July 16.

"I must say that I executed the orders in an honourable manner on July 12 and 13. (.) What I can say is that I did a normal and useful thing. (...) My conscience, as a man and as an officer, is clear. I have nothing to hide. I cannot be held responsible for my superiors. I did what I did. I am not ashamed of my actions," Jevic said, concluding his testimony.

Four years later, in May 2007, Mendeljev testified for three days at the trial of seven officers of the VRS and MUP RS, who are charged with genocide. On that occasion, he said that on July 12 and 13, 1995 he safeguarded the civilians in Potocari, in his capacity as Commander of the First Squad of the Personnel Training Center. He said that, "from a humane point of view", their evacuation was the only solution.

"When the transportation started, the civilians were scared. Some wanted to go, others did not. I suppose there was a doze of fear. At the beginning they were scared, but when they saw other people leaving and everything going in a normal way, they left. There were many women and children,"
Mendeljev said, adding that he did not see that men were separated, abused or mistreated.

Concluding his testimony, Mendeljev said that he believed that he performed "an honourable task" in Potocari, adding that he helped Bosniaks feel safe.

While Jevic said he heard about "the incident" which happened in Kravica in the evening on July 13, 1995, a few hours after it had happened, Mendeljev, whose unit controlled the part of the road between Bratunac and Konjevic polje in the vicinity of the village in Bratunac that night, said he heard "stories and rumours" and information from the media much later.

On July 13, 1995 more than 1,000 men, who had previously been captured and brought to the location, were killed in Kravica Agricultural Cooperative in Bratunac. The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina rendered a second-instance verdict against seven former members of the Second Special Police Squad from Sekovici, sentencing them to a total of 187 years in prison for this crime.

The trial of three more members of the same Squad is underway. Milos Stupar, former Commander of the Second Squad, is awaiting retrial. The Appellate Chamber revoked the first-instance verdict, by which he was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

See: Staljin from Srebrenica still works as an RS police officer.
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